The counter at the Meat Mart in Orange Beach, Alabama.

By John Mullen

November 8, 2018 – Orange Beach, AL (OBA®) – Dale Beard was spending a busy recent Thursday morning getting the scratch-made salads, twice-baked potatoes, stuffed mushrooms and casseroles ready and stocked into the Meat Mart’s display cases.

Husband Glenn was working on the next batch of house-made bacon by applying seasonings to the pork belly slab and getting ready to put it in the smoker.

“We’re not sitting around twiddling our thumbs as much as we did when we first opened,” Dale said with a grin. “We used to sit here and twiddle our fingers from the time school started until school was out. We not twiddling as much.”

Meat Mart owners Glenn and Dale beard of Orange Beach, Alabama.In fact, business has grown so much it now takes Glenn and Dale and three employees to meet the demands of Meat Mart customers.

Not much has changed about the offerings at the shop since it opened nearly eight years ago, Dale said.

“We’re just selling a lot more of it,” she said.

“It’s not just one thing,” Glenn added. “Everything across the board has increased.”

The big sport fishing boats coming to town twice a year have been a big part of the Meat Mart’s success. They stop by to stock up for the four-day trip chasing blue marlin.

“Even if you just get eight to 12 boats of the 40 or so going out it’s a big shot,” Glenn said. “They don’t always order they just come in and wipe you out. Give me all those, give me all those, give me all those.”

Dale’s homemade casseroles are a big hit on the boats as well.

"We’ve got a little something for everybody,” Glenn said. “We have five flavors of twice-baked potatoes. We make all our salads from scratch. Those potatoes are pretty popular.”

Everything in the store is made fresh. Dale is in charge of homemade seafood, chicken and potato salads. She also makes fresh pimento cheese and smoked tuna dip.

“My chicken salad is made with all-natural free-range chicken,” Dale says. “It’s a Paula Deen recipe that I tweaked. The pimento cheese is also Paula Deen’s, with my tweaks. The potato salad is my mom’s.”

The Meat Mart offers a crab boil for $10.99 a person.Dale also handcrafts the store’s crab cakes and portabella mushroom caps filled with crab cake stuffing. Other prepared and ready to cook items include kabobs and beef pinwheels – a blend of tender beef, fresh spinach leaves and Provolone cheese, rolled and sliced. You can also pick up seasonal local produce to complete your meal.

Glenn is in charge of making the mind-boggling variety of sausages. Anything from sun-dried tomato basil to savory chicken to the house-flavored sausages. Some of the 20 or so sausages even come with seafood in them - like shrimp and crawfish boudin.

“We do make everything in here,” Glenn said. “We hand-cut everything. If you want to just buy one piece of sausage, you can. You don’t have to buy the whole pack. Whatever you want.”

The beef is of restaurant quality.

“As far as our line of meats, we have Certified Angus beef,” Glenn said. “You have to be licensed to carry that. This is prime beef. I like to keep some out here so people can see it. Prime ribeyes.”

“The prime is something you really only get in high-end restaurants,” Dale said. “You normally don’t see it out where you can buy it and take it home and cook it.”

The Meat Mart offers five varieties of ribeyes ranging in price from $7.99 a pound up to $39.99 for waygu ribeyes.

Owner Glenn Beard of the Meat Mart in Orange Beach, Alabama.“We’ve got your ribeye no matter what your budget is,” Glenn said. “We’re not just a high-end shop. We have a lot of hand-cut pork chops, chicken and sausages.”

If you want a special order, just give Dale a call. Recently a friend going into surgery wanted a special chicken salad.

“I’ve got people that will call me up and say they want stuffed peppers or make me a meatloaf, stuff as I rule I don’t do,” she said. “I’ve made special ordered deviled eggs. Around Thanksgiving, I’ll be doing a lot of casseroles and turkeys.”

Recently a church group came to town that didn’t eat pork and specially ordered beef bacon was a real popular item.

“He was making a lot of beef bacon last month because a Church of God group was here and they don’t eat pork,” Dale said. “They took the island over for about a week. We were making beef hotdogs and beef sausage. It was good, too. I was surprised to see how good that beef bacon was.”

Glenn still makes his signature beef jerky as well and is always experimenting with different tastes. Samples are always available at the store.

Another popular item is the $10.99 shrimp boil. The Meat Mart will prepare a half pound of shrimp, an andouille sausage stick, two ears of corn and lots of potatoes.

“I’ve weighed it when we make for two people and it’s over four pounds,” Dale said. “It’s a lot of food.”

One of the best things about moving from Georgia to Orange Beach for the Beards was becoming entrenched in the community. Many of the regular customers have turned into friends.

“That was the goal,” Glenn said. “It’s a pretty good bunch of folks here on the island.”